Monday, February 11, 2013

High School in Maine Creates Spatial Experiences: 3

The endless high school hallway. It's even shown up in my dreams. At the end is doors to gym; turn left and up a few stairs and down more hallway to doors to the parking lot. Most kids in Maine grow up with this space as a dominant experience in their lives. Every weekday life's most intense moments may happen in such a space. Monotonous for the most part, hermetic and claustrophobic, moving through such a space can imprint a linear, film-like space/time memory of planning.

They're so introverted.

Such stale experience could stifle the creativity of our future planners. The double loaded corridor is always forcing it's super efficient layout on design. In the photo above, the lucky students actually get light at the end of the tunnel. Like the train tracks of the Industrial Revolution, we are forced to take only one path submissively. The same attitude led to the elevated highways crashing through our delicate pedestrian fabric and Jacobs battling Moses.

But in a true village there would be one library for everyone in town and students in all grades, and you would walk to it from a classroom building. Spatial experience would vary moving from place to place in the course of a day. Performances would take place in which ever size auditorium in the center that was the right size for the event whether it was a grade school day time event or a community night time one. This is not to say grade schools would not have their own dedicated spaces, just that buildings in town would be shared by all and not wasted, lying empty at times and built cheap because they are not important to all.

Our Maine towns should slice and dice this endless hallway by building separate buildings like a village with connected covered walkways where used often creating courtyards, town squares and landscapes for yankee pedestrian delight.


Tracy L Gayton said...

I couldn't agree more, Michael. Classrooms should be embedded in the village. Exchange school corridors for streets.

Michael Belleau Architect said...

Thanks Tracy. "Corridors for Streets" is now my new slogan. Nice.